Last year’s Halloween in Madrid: at school and at the piso

our piso decked out at our international Halloween party

Halloween 2010 with my 4B class

Halloween has always been a big part of any Americans’ childhood. In the states, we have the fun traditions of trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, costumes, and spooky tales of ghouls, ghosts, and vampires, oh my. In college, I used to celebrate Halloween for 4 days, and had different costumes for each day!

But I didn’t know what to expect in Spain.

In comparison with the states, I knew that Halloween is not as big of a holiday in most other countries. So once I heard my school had a big Halloween school celebration, I was ecstatic. And my co-workers told me they were going to dress up, so I had to think of something!

The day before, we worked hard to decorate the school.

my school decked out for Halloween

They had an impressive amount of Halloween decorations, and even a life-size vampire (life-size for children, lol).

scary Dracula at school

Luckily, I had packed some red devil ears/red devil tail for this occasion. I thought this was something low-key, and I wouldn’t have to wear a full costume during my morning train commute.

Once I got to school, I was surprised to find the students and some of my co-workers (the bilingual teachers) fully decked out in elaborate costumes.

a 4th grader as the "corpse-bride" with one of the teachers

taking Halloween seriously: his mom spent 3 days sewing his costume

with my 4a class. The corpse bride on the right is the teacher (using a wedding dress for her costume!)

4th grader as a scary baby-killer

Turns out, in Spain, Halloween = scary/spooky. People ONLY wear “creepy” or “scary costumes”. Case in point, one of my 4th graders was a terrifying baby killer – look at the painted baby’s eyelids! Horrifying.

And anything “cute” or even “sexy” (for adults of course) are all reserved for Carnaval (the same holiday as Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday). It isn’t fair! Spain gets BOTH Halloween AND Carnaval!

With the growing interest in English education and American influence, Halloween has become more celebrated in recent years. Some of my students told me that the town organizes “trick-or-treating” or just simple candy distribution at the local park.

Halloween at my school was incredible, even better than Halloweens I’ve celebrated in elementary school. I brought a jack-o-lantern to school, and everybody loved it (most of them had never seen a jack-o-lantern before!). Only the bilingual program was involved for Halloween, which was rather sad for the 5th and 6th graders (who are not in the bilingual program, so they didn’t participate). The school had organized multiple games that the kids played in groups outside. All the games were in English, such as unscrambling letters of different Halloween vocabulary, charades, etc. I led games for the 3rd and 4th graders, and I sang the Ghostbusters song with the younger kids (which I taught them for weeks, but they could only remember the chorus, lol).

playing Halloween games

Halloween group games

The 1st and 2nd graders had separate games, and they got to hit each other with foam swords while dancing to Michael Jackson’s Beat it and Thriller! So cool!

1st and 2nd graders fighting with foam swords

I was SO impressed with how much effort went into the Halloween school celebration, and the kids absolutely loved it! I’m really so lucky to be at an amazing school.

Halloween at the piso

Halloween group roomie photo

My old roommates and I actually organized a Halloween party at our piso. We had some Halloween decorations shipped from America! We invited a wide array of expat friends, some of whom never really celebrated Halloween, and had a grand ol’ time.

Since our party was pretty international, we didn’t abide by the “spooky” Spain Halloween costume requirement. I was a flapper! Other costumes included: a Spanish housewife, a poker face, a pirate, a cupcake, zombies, Wolverine, a plant, a priest, a ladybug, a bumblebee…

Delicious spooky appetizers, such as Frankenstein's guts and mummy fingers

hand-made tissue paper ghosts

Overall, last year’s Halloween in Madrid = success. I only hope this year’s will be equally as stellar!

An international Halloween in Madrid, 2010

Have you had a “foreign” Halloween experience?